Tyre shipments are projected to drop more than 7% in 2009 following a nearly 9% drop in 2008, according to the US Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Total 2009 tyre shipments are projected to decline approximately 21m units to 261m, a level last experienced in 1993 and approximately 60m units fewer than the 321m unit peak in 2000.

"The decrease in tyre shipments reflects the continued erosion of consumer confidence, higher unemployment, depressed auto sales, a decline in vehicle miles travelled and downward revisions in domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors," the association said.

"A turnaround is projected to begin in 2010, in line with economic forecasts, where the industry is expected to realise a modest recovery nearing the 270m unit level."

RMA's tyre market analysis committee said decreases in domestic vehicle production led to an 18.7% decline in original equipment passenger tyres to 37.6m units in 2008.

Further decreases in domestic vehicle production will result in a nearly 22% decrease in 2009 shipments to approximately 29m units.

However, as the economy emerges from the recession in 2010, a rebound in vehicle sales and subsequent vehicle production is anticipated, which will result in a nearly 6m unit recovery in this category.